In 1939, the year World War II broke out, Winston Churchill was thinking about aliens. Not illegal aliens, actual extraterrestrial aliens. Although the looming Nazi threat surely commanded most of Churchill's attention, the renowned statesman still found time to formally ponder one of humanity's greatest mysteries in the aptly titled essay, “Are We Alone in the Universe?”
A little more than 40 years ago, Dubai was a tiny pearl-fishing village lined with dirt roads. Now it's the largest and most futuristic city in the world, the jewel of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). From manmade, palm tree-shaped archipelagos to jetpack-wearing firefighters and the world's tallest building, the city has a reputation for taking on insanely ambitious projects and executing them with swiftness and expertise. Now, the UAE has a vision to build an even crazier city—on Mars.
Our sun might not seem as enigmatic as more exotic, distant stars, but it's still a marvelously mysterious miasma of incandescent plasma. And it's certainly worthy of our scientific attention: Curiosity aside, a violent solar event could disrupt satellites and cause $2 trillion in damages for the U.S. alone. Yet, despite living in its atmosphere, we don't understand some of its defining phenomena. For sixty years, we haven't understood why the surface is a cozy 5,500 Celsius, while the halo called the corona—several million kilometers away from the star's surface and 12 orders of magnitude less dense—boasts a positively sizzling 1-2 million Celsius.
If we want to find alien life in our solar system, Jupiter's icy moon Europa is one of the best places to look for it. And scientists may get a chance to do just that in the coming decades. A new NASA report outlines the goals for a mission that could land on the icy moon as soon as the 2031.
A massive flash of light illuminated the skies above Illinois and Wisconsin on Sunday. It blazed a Northeasterly path bright enough for folks to spot from New York to Minnesota before falling into Lake Michigan. You're probably picturing a steaming rock, hissing briefly as it hit the chilly surface of the Great Lake. But you'd be wrong. “That was completely made up in Hollywood,” says Mike Hankey, Operations Manager and meteorite hunter at the American Meteor Society. “It's literally cold when you first touch it.” He would know—he's been tracking down meteorites for years with the AMS and has found many a meteorite chunk. “Everyone always writes in saying they know they've found a meteorite because it was hot,” he says. “Nope, definitely not.”
When it comes to spaceflight, SpaceX's prices and flair are hard to beat. But the company hasn't exactly had smooth flying lately. There've been a few explosions, and the most recent blast in September has raised questions about whether the company's fueling operations could endanger future astronauts. Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that a problem in the Falcon 9's engine could jeopardize SpaceX's goal of becoming the first private company to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station in 2018.